A Broken Record

BingCrosbyWhiteChristmas

I had a dream a few nights ago. In the dream I am in charge of the Academy Awards. The show is about to start. I’ve entrusted the opening music to my mother. She plays the wrong song! I hear Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, and she’s playing it on an LP, scratch vinyl!

I frantically look through mounds of vinyl LPs for the correct song, which is Barbra Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade”. I can’t find it. I admit to those around me that for last year’s show we used CDs for the first time. Suddenly, an obnoxious voice chimes in: “Why are you using vinyl? Who uses vinyl anymore, or even CDs for that matter? Why aren’t there MP3s or other modern formats for your music? This is crazy!”

I ask those around me to make him shut up because I can’t concentrate. Knowing the whole world is now watching and waiting, I keep shuffling through the vinyl LPs, hoping to find the right song. The End.

Here’s what came to me as I played with the dream: A nostalgic “White Christmas” life, a fantasy existence, plays in my head like a broken record. That broken record says that my work should be like an idealized view of a past job. My friends now should make me feel just like beloved friends made me feel in college and young adulthood. The record skips from song to song,  replay old recordings about how community, work, a relationship, friendships, and even the divine should be. Why has my life not turned out to be the award-deserving triumph I envisioned?

I sensed that the deeper issue is the format, symbolized by vinyl LPs. They have deep grooves and ruts that are comfortable yet confining.  Digital recordings and live streaming are more flexible and adaptable. I don’t need a new song, which would soon become its own broken record. I need a new format, a different context for listening to the music of my life.

The old format is one of comparisons, “should have been” and “ought to be”.  Fantasies about the past become a broken record with which no current reality can compete, and I become too fogged with nostalgia or judgment to notice what’s emerging around and within me.

An alternative is to savor the love available in real life here and now. This reality-based format is fluid, unpredictable and vulnerable. And yet the rhythm of goodness here is genuine and vivacious. All I need to do is feel the beat and move with it.

So, I thanked that obnoxious voice which I had tried to silence in the dream. I intend to come out of the nostalgic rut and savor my life here and now. Love…true, messy and omnipresent…is the only reality worth leaving nostalgia for.

What do you make of the dream? What do you relate to in it?

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10 Responses to A Broken Record

  1. Kristin says:

    Scott,
    This blog entry was delivered to my inbox by a treasure of a friend with an email that read “This is for you this morning”. I read it for the first time with what felt like a river of tears threatening to release. It felt as if these words had been written just for me:
    ‘The old format is one of comparisons, “should have been” and “ought to be”. Fantasies about the past become a broken record with which no current reality can compete, and I become too fogged with nostalgia or judgment to notice what’s emerging around and within me.
    An alternative is to savor the love available in real life here and now. This reality-based format is fluid, unpredictable and vulnerable. And yet the rhythm of goodness here is genuine and vivacious. All I need to do is feel the beat and move with it.”

    In the days that have past since the arrival of that email – I have read the latter of these paragraphs each morning. Somehow bridging the gap between yearning for the past and accepting the love that is all around me.
    In the moment that I wiped the fairy dust of wishes and memories from my eyes – the most remarkable thing happened. I felt content, at peace. Allowing myself to come into this moment and the dream that is happening all around me opened up miraculously.
    The yearning – upon its departure – left space for the beautiful reality that is the people, places and things all around me (for real) to funnel in.
    There was a physical change in my day – the text messages, a friend stops by with a bottle of wine, my son calmed. All the crazy frayed edges in my life intertwined and created a warm, safe and happy place for me to feel at peace.
    I thank you – from the bottom of my heart – for your words… and while you shared them with many… I want you to know that they changed my perspective and, in turn, changed my life.
    xoxo,
    K

    • scott says:

      Dear Kristin,
      Thank you so much for sharing your moving response. I usually write about what I’m struggling with myself, and when that can in some way help someone else…my heart fills with gratitude. Please feel free to sign up for the email notification (upper right side of each webpage) of each new blog entry (about once a week). Wishing you all the best with your wonderful life, here and now. Scott

  2. SQ.

    Your analysis is spot on, but leaves me felling somewhat sombre. Don’t ask me why.

    In the abstract the dream represents the past, present and future represented by the progression of technologies, (vinyl, to cds, to mp3s) this as your sub-conscience perceives it.

    A showman, comedian, presenter of accolades, at a greatly anticipated ceremonial event is your concrete theme. Too many avenues of exploration to cover in this forum.

    It’s not often one hears the actual voice of the super ego speaking as the omniscient observer. Better that, though, than a monster from the id.

    Any more than that and I’d have to charge you for a session.

    ERS.

    P.S. I had an unusually vivid dream last night I call “The Curse of the Anunnaki.” Think I’ll save that for my neglected blog.

  3. david cain says:

    Don’t miss the now! This is where the blessings are. I have so many people in my life who are restless, discontented and irritable in their present and are missing out. At least one is making their best attempt to just be, but it was not before a really dark night of the soul….

  4. David Livingston Styers says:

    How true! The past always looks rosy (even when it was not) whereas we look at the future through a glass darkly. Let us have faith to be Janus not only looking back at the past to learn and honor but also always looking forward even when it is difficult to see.

    • scott says:

      Thanks David for the Janus reference…looking back and forward at the same time…the place of transitions! Faith to look forward into uncertainty…thanks for your wise words.

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